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Wednesday May 5, 2010 - 19:53:29 GMT
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Forex Market Commentary and Analysis (5 May 2010)

The euro depreciated sharply vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the single currency tested bids around the US$ 1.2805 level and was capped around the $1.2995 level.  The common currency reached its lowest level since March 2009 as sovereign credit concerns worsened in the eurozone and the threat of contagion to other major industrialized countries worsened.  Germany and France are offering the most financial assistance to Greece as part of a multilateral bailout plan that includes the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund.  The European Central Bank this week decided to allow Greek debt for repo-eligible collateral despite the fact that it has been downgraded to junk status.  The ECB will announce its interest rate decision and is expected to keep all options open but not reduce its headline main refinancing rate target.  ECB member Weber highlighted the risk of “contagion effects” from the Greek crisis.  The risk of contagion has certainly heightened as Moody’s reported it placed Portugal’s Aa2 government bond rating on review for a possible downgrade, a move that would likely happen in the next three months.  Data released in the eurozone today saw EMU-16 April PMI services improve to 55.6 from the prior reading of 55.5 while the April PMI composite remained steady at 57.3.  Also, EMU-16 March retail sales improved to 0.0% m/m and -0.1% y/y.  German data saw April PMI services improve to 55.2 from 55.0 while French April PMI services improved to 59.2 from 57.8.  In U.S. news, data released in the U.S. today saw MBA mortgage applications improve 4.0% from the prior reading of -2.9%.  Also, April Challenger job cuts were off 71.1% y/y, down from the prior reading of -55.0.  On a positive note, the April ADP employment change survey came in stronger than expected at +32,000 private jobs, up from the upwardly revised +19,000 prior reading.  Finally, the April ISM non-manufacturing composite ticked higher to 55.4.  The most important data to be released this week include the April non-farm payrolls data with many forecasts calling for a gain of about 190,000 jobs and the unemployment rate steady at 9.7%.  Boston Fed President Rosengren reported he is still “worrying about” the weak housing market. Euro bids are cited around the US$ 1.2740 level.

¥/ CNY

The yen appreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested bids around the ¥94.00 figure and was capped around the ¥95.00 figure.  Traders continue to move into yen as a safe haven play on account of the global sovereign credit crisis.  Japanese financial markets were again closed overnight for the ongoing Golden Week holiday.  .  Last week, Bank of Japan kept monetary policy unchanged overnight and reported it will help lenders provide credit, possibly using methods from 1998-1999 when lenders gave cash to lenders to address the credit squeeze.  The headline overnight unsecured call rate target was maintained at 0.1%. BoJ Governor Shirakawa directed the central bank to stimulate lending “with a view to strengthening the foundations for economic growth.” He added “The government is also trying to map out an economic growth strategy, and the Bank of Japan hopes to give a boost to such efforts with new policy measures.” Last week’s data released in Japan evidence an improving economy that is mired in a deflationary spiral and the central bank’s enhanced rhetoric last week reflects that dichotomy.  The new forecast for inflation suggests deflation will end during the next fiscal year with CPI at +0.1%.  April monetary base data will be released tomorrow.  The Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 1.21% last Friday to close at ¥11,057.40.  U.S. dollar offers are cited around the ¥96.85 level.  The euro moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as the single currency tested bids around the ¥120.70 level and was capped around the ¥123.35 level.  The British pound moved lower vis-à-vis the yen as sterling tested bids around the ¥141.85 level while the Swiss franc moved lower vis-à-vis the yen and tested bids around the ¥84.25 level. In Chinese news, the U.S. dollar depreciated vis-à-vis the Chinese yuan as the greenback closed at CNY 6.8263 in the over-the-counter market, down from CNY 6.8268.  Data released in China this week saw the April HSBC manufacturing PMI index decline to 55.4 from the prior reading of 57.0.  In contrast, the CFLP April PMI measure released last week improved to 55.7 from 55.1.  The markets reacted this week by focusing on the weaker number, enhancing global risk aversion.  Chinese banks are increasing their reserves after People’s Bank of China raised its bank reserves ratio for the third time this year this weekend and Chinese equities declined to a seven-month low today.  There is market chatter that China may lift its reserve ratio as high as 18% in a bid to manage economic growth.  People’s Bank of China is expected to revalue its yuan currency at any time.  Ratings agency Fitch reported Chinese banks may need to be bailed out “if we do see a pretty serious correction in the property market.”


The British pound depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as cable tested bids around the US$ 1.5065 level and was capped around the $1.5170 level.  There is a growing consensus that Tory leader Cameron could win tomorrow’s general election and may agree a deal with Ulster unionists that could cement a majority in Parliament, averting a hung Parliament.  If Cameron wins the election, his ability to form a majority election will be dictated by the number of seats his Tory party picks up.  If he is close to a majority, a deal with the Ulster unionists could be made to avoid having to agree a deal with the Liberal Democrats and Clegg.  If he is not close to a majority, he may have to agree a deal with the Liberal Democrats and Clegg to try and consolidate power.  Regardless of the outcome, a Cameron victory could push the pound higher as it was the Tories who resisted the Blair initiative several years ago to accede Economic and Monetary Union and join the euro.  Data released in the U.K. today saw April PMI construction improve to 58.1 from the prior reading of 53.1.  Cable bids are cited around the US$ 1.5030 level.  The euro depreciated vis-à-vis the British pound as the single currency tested bids around the £0.8490 level and was capped around the £0.8575 level.


The Swiss franc depreciated vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar today as the greenback tested offers around the CHF 1.1185 level and was supported around the CHF 1.1020 level.  There is ongoing talk that the Swiss National Bank continued to protect the CHF 1.4320 level on the EUR/CHF cross to prevent Swiss exporters.  Data to be released in Switzerland tomorrow include April consumer price inflation followed by the April unemployment rate on Friday along with March retail sales.U.S. dollar offers are cited around the CHF 1.1270 level.  The euro moved higher vis-à-vis the Swiss franc as the single currency tested offers around the CHF 1.4325 level while the British pound appreciated vis-à-vis the Swiss franc and tested offers around the CHF 1.6865 level.


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